Mind-numbing corruption, galloping food inflation, blood-curdling Maoism, life-ripping terrorism (homegrown and otherwise), daylight loot of natural resources (State-sponsored and otherwise), burgeoning trouble in Kashmir, States simmering from within and so on.
India in the year of the lord 2010 is, to put it in Confucian terms, living in interesting times; just over a year after the “nasty jolt” the Congress-led UPA gave the BJP-led NDA in the 2009 general elections.
M.J. Akbar asks the obvious question in The Sunday Guardian:
“Are we heading towards a 1973 situation? In early 1971 Indira Gandhi was re-elected by margins that surprised her Congress. She reached the pinnacle of her tenure with the military triumph in Bangladesh in December 1971. Within a year, inflation had soured the public mood. By the end of 1973, corruption had deepened the mire in which the government was stuck. In 1974, Jayaprakash Narayan, whose own integrity was beyond question, challenged the moral right of Indira Gandhi to continue in office.
“The one great difference is too obvious: there is no Jayaprakash Narayan in 2010. The corrupt are comforted by the fact that the credibility of all politicians is so low that the public does not have an effective vehicle through which it can mobilise its anger. This vacuum should be of little comfort to the government. The wrath, real or simulated, of opposition parties is not the spectre ahead, but the rising discontent of the people.
“The whiplash of food inflation is harshest on the poor, those who earn around a hundred rupees aday. The poor do not protest too often, for the daily task of earning enough to eat is a demanding physical and psychological responsibility that consumes their time. But their patience is not infinite. They voted in large numbers for the Congress in 2009 because they believe in the sincerity of the party. They are beginning to feel betrayed.”